These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

On to Ballinamore, + trip back to Garadice Lough 28th - 30th June

We sailed on across Garadice Lough, going south of Church island, and on to the Shannon-Erne Waterway, heading west this time. We called in at Riversdale, Graham's marina, below Aghoo Lock, and borrowed an impact driver. Andy eventually managed to loosen the screw-slotted bolts on the lid of the water tank. A canoe joined us in Ardrum lock, clinging on beside our stern. He looked quite worried when the paddles went up and the water swirled in, but relaxed as he just bobbed up and down a bit.

Hilary and Brian joined us on The Puzzler on Wednesday, for the day, as they are holidaying in Ireland this week. We sailed back down the Shannon-Erne Waterway with them to Garadice Lough, where Brian took the tiller, having worked a couple of locks with one finger!

After crossing the lough, we had a pleasant lunch at Haughton's Shore, even picking some wild strawberries, which were very tasty. The return journey across Garadice was extremely wet, with some wind and waves to make it more interesting too! The rain was so heavy that Sally, who was steering, could not see the markers at the far end of the lough. She had gone to the south of Church Island so as to meet the waves head on, and was thus off the regular route. Eventually, using the binoculars, she spotted a few white markers, far up the lough, so headed for them. When we got nearer, they surprisingly looked more like cows, but a left turn took us safely to the two pairs of red and white markers, which by now were emerging out of the rain.

However, the rain cleared up as we sailed back along the river section. Hilary became an expert at lock working, as we returned up Ballinamore Lock.

Ballinamore is a deep lock, as can be seen from the weir alongside. Ballinamore mooring can be seen beyond the footbridge over the weir.

Brian and Hilary were pleased to see the solar panels in use, as it was they who delivered them to us three years ago, part way down Devizes Locks!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Derryvore to Garadice Lough 22nd - 28th June

On leaving Derryvore, we sailed on to join the Shannon-Erne Waterway, and stopped in Ballyconnell for shopping. We collected the post and also went on the Ballyconnell Canal and Forest Walk. This well signed walk is the first one we have found in Southern Ireland. It follows the Woodford river, also going through the Annagh woods, and is very pleasant.

We are always on the lookout for convenient supplies of Diesel. At Ballyconnell, we found a very promising green diesel pump right alongside the river at a service station. Andy enquired as to the availability of MGO (Marked Gas Oil) - green in colour, but the same as red diesel in the UK. He was told that the pump was out of use just now. Andy then asked how permanent the problem was. The reply was: "Well now, it must be over five years since it broke down"! We left, disappointed.

An evening sail took us to the jetty by Bridge 26, then on to Haughton’s Shore the following morning, before the rain set in. We have noticed that Irish cows tend to lie down, when they are not grazing, so as to keep their piece of grass dry. They know that it is not a question of “Will it rain today?” but of “When will it rain today?”

Haughton's Shore mooring is the harbour at the end of Lough Garadice. The exit from it is beyond the bows of The Puzzler. The lough is straight ahead or you can turn sharply to the right on to the river. The Shannon-Erne Waterway continues on from here along the Woodford River towards Ballyconnell. The approach from the lough is quite tricky, when first seen, and many boats overshoot the river entrance and so end up in the harbour instead. They look first surprised, then embarrassed, as they turn and make their way out again on to the river. This to the amusement of boats already in the harbour!

There is pleasant walking along to the shore of Lough Garadice, where orchids grow in abundance.

We spent several days at Haughton's Shore, catching up with all external touching up of the blacking and green paint, where it had been scratched. There was far less to do than there would have been on the English Waterways, due to the scarcity of locks here. We will no doubt knock some paint off when we visit the Royal Canal, later this year!

On leaving the harbour, we looked back to see how boats missed the turn left in to the river, which is immediately after the left hand marker. Haughton's Shore is straight ahead, and certainly looks more inviting!

We sailed out on to Garadice Lough, intending to moor on a jetty which is on the mainland, opposite to Church Island, but it was already taken. We carried on beyond that jetty, and feel it is definitely one for the future. Turning round, we returned to Church Island. The lough is calmer than we have ever seen it, creating fantastic reflections as we came in to moor.

Later on, the other boat moved off, so we crossed to take their mooring. It is similar to Church Island, but the old jetty has been pulled to one side, making it a little awkward to moor.

It is also rocky, where The Puzzler's bows are tucked in behind the old jetty.

We enjoyed being at this rather different mooring, away from it all.

We were sitting quietly inside the boat when we heard screeching from under the jetty. This mink, (or is it a polecat?) came out, swearing at us for trespassing on his patch!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Belturbet to Derryvore. 15th - 21st June

After Debbie left us, we returned down the River Erne to Upper Lough Erne and spent a night at Castle Crom jetty. The rest of the week was spent at Derryvore mooring, in Trial Bay, just off the main part of Upper Lough Erne. Only one speedboat came into the bay this time. Here he is “on the plane”.

Derryvore is actually in Northern Ireland. However, for internet access it is, surprisingly, in Southern Ireland. We have a 3 dongle, so went online to top it up. Having taken our card details, it needed our address, so we gave our address in England. It then needed a county to complete the address, but the choice was only of the Irish Counties! What should we do now, as we do not have an address in Southern Ireland? Andy thought that Roscommon sounded nice. Also it was a bit like Norfolk, being quite a flat county, so he chose that one. Our dongle accepted it, so we were in business again, and online!

This week was used for various boat jobs. Andy refurbished the pigeon loft, taking it completely to pieces, before using paint stripper to remove all the varnish. This had started to come away in various places. The five new coats of varnish he gave it over several days should protect the oak for a few years to come! However, the Irish rain might have a say in this!

The small brass portholes were also stripped of lacquer, then polished before relacquering.

We used the cratch table as a cover, while the pigeon loft was out of use. This kept our bedroom dry, except when the torrential rain crept in one day, and our quilt was quite damp!

Here the rain is falling so hard that it is bouncing on the water!

However the rain does have the advantage of creating impressive rainbows. This one was very low and had both ends in the water too.

While at Derryvore we had some good weather too and some stunning sunsets. Here the colour is reflected on to the clouds across Trial Bay.

Another night we walked up to the road, a quarter of a mile from our mooring, to see more brilliant reds and oranges in the sky.

One task, from the job list, was to empty the water tank, as we planned to repaint it. We duly had baths and a washday to do so. Once the tank was practically empty, we couldn’t turn the screws to open the lid! The real consolation of this is that neither of us has to climb inside the tank to clean and paint it, not yet anyway! Water is never a problem on the Irish moorings, as there are water taps on most jetties.

We went for several walks along the nearby lanes. One day we met an old Irishman, who stopped for a bit of craic. We had talked for a while when he asked us whether we were Germans. This was because he had realised that we were not Irish and so must be foreigners! Practically all the hire boaters are German, so it was an understandable mistake on his part.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Further Cruising from Enniskillen 7th - 15th June

After a few days at Ardhowen, we returned to the centre of Enniskillen, to top up on essentials for the long summer cruise in Southern Ireland. It is so easy to shop here that we probably bought too much!

Debbie, our younger daughter, joined us in Enniskillen for a week. Debbie and Matt are taking a break from their trip to South Africa, so follow their adventures On the road with Toad. There is a link to their blog in our blog list.

We cruised on to Devenish Island, going back to Devenish west mooring this time, as the weather was calm. We went to revisit the ruins and climbed up inside the tower at St. Mary's church to see the view over the island.

Some of us climbed on the walls of St. Molaise's Church too!

This insect came to visit us. Does anyone know what he is?

We cruised back to Enniskillen, and on to Ardhowen Theatre mooring. The Puzzler is hiding behind all the big cruisers!

Walking over the road from the theatre, we explored the grounds of Castle Coole. It is an impressive house, but looked very shut up. The walking is good though.

We sailed on along the River Erne and moored at Tullyinishmore, where this family of swans came to see us. Inish means island in Ireland, and Inishmore is a large island which divides the River Erne at this point.

Debbie helped Dad with the steering.

The cattle which graze on the islands in Upper Lough Erne in the summer are transported on this ferry.

As we turned on to the Shannon-Erne-Waterway, Toad took his turn at the tiller.

At Skelan lock, a swallow's nest was built in the wall, near to the stern of the boat. Opposite us, Mrs. Swallow waited to feed her youngsters.

On our return we kept to the other side of the lock,
and could see the baby birds, waiting patiently for their next meal.

Here it comes!

Mother seems to feed the baby who shouts loudest. She only feeds one mouth at each visit.

We carried on to Haughton's Shore for lunch, mooring just before an afternoon of torrential rain. Next day it was fine, so we revisited Church Island, in Garadice Lock, to find these foxgloves in full bloom.

Debbie and Mum took over the steering for now, on the way back from Church Island.

We made our way back along the Woodford River and, having passed Ballyconnell, decided on this "wild mooring". Catkin did not like it at all!

However the impressive sunset gave us some super reflections.

We sailed back to Upper Lough Erne and took Debbie to see Castle Crom.

This herd reflects the contented life led by these Irish cattle. We passed them on Galloon Island before heading south up the River Erne to Belturbet, where Debbie left us.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Round trip of Upper Lough Erne plus extras. 22nd May - 2nd June

We continued on down the River Erne to Regal Pass mooring, in the middle of Enniskillen, to sit out the winds on Monday. These were blowing at 35mph with gusts of over 70 mph, lifting the tops off the waves as they rolled past us. This is normally a sheltered mooring. A small cruiser, with no one on board, sailed up the inside of our mooring, ending up against the footbridge!

Elaine, Andy’s sister, and Mary, our friend, joined us at the Ardhowen Theatre later in the week. We cruised back to Devenish Island, through wind and rain, on Thursday.
We moored at Devenish West jetty, going into the sheltered part of it, which is reminiscent of a narrow lock!

As soon as there was a break in the weather, we went to visit the ruins. Devenish West mooring is much closer to the ruins and the White Tower.

Elaine found an old rugged cross!

We walked over to Devenish East mooring, which was very exposed in this weather.

The spray from the waves was coming up through the jetty.
Do click on this picture to see it in greater detail!

After leaving Devenish we sailed along Upper Lough Erne, taking the east route this time. We visited Castle Crom and walked along to see the ruins. The original was built in 1610, at about the same time as Tully Castle.

There are two yew trees near to the ruins. These trees were fully grown in the time of Queen Elizabeth 1, over 400 years ago.

We continued on to join the Shannon- Erne- Waterway. This is Skelan lock.

We sailed as far as Haughton’s Shore, which is one of our favourite moorings. We managed to get the prime spot this time!

Before returning down the S-E-W, we sailed round Church Island in Garadice Lough, and stopped on the island to see the ruined church.

On our return to Upper Lough Erne, we cruised round Galloon Island, and visited Rachel and Chris at their mooring. We had met them earlier this year on the Shannon-Erne Waterway. We tied our bows to a handy post, while we went into their boat for a cup of tea. Fortunately there was a fisherman nearby, who gave us a shout, as the wind blew The Puzzler across their bows, and levered the post out. Chris was very quick to react, holding our bow rope while we leapt back on board, before The Puzzler sailed off on her own, with Catkin in charge!

The clouds were very impressive as we sailed up the lough.

When we returned to Ardhowen, the evening light was superb.
Elaine and Mary left us the next morning, after a most enjoyable week.